I’ve always been a big fan of SuperGiant Games’ Bastion; it was easily my favourite game of 2011. It was unique in that it had a completely narrated story, giving the player a secondary source of information on almost everything they did. It made up for having a silent protagonist by supplanting that dialog with a third-party – and well, the game was damned fun, too.
So naturally I’m a little happy to learn that SuperGiant is going to be making a new title, Transistor, which will be similarly themed as Bastion was. Instead of a steampunk-y setting, however, we’ll be flung to the not-so-far future, where the titular Transistor will guide a female lead through hazards, puzzles and adventure.
There’s a number of things I like about this:
- A female lead (named Red) is never a bad thing in video games, and one that can mix elegant and badass is something that needs to happen more often.
- The story having a unique reason for Red’s silence, which is pretty cool. I love when games work in reasons to have certain tropes.
- The game will feature Logan Cunningham doing the voice of the Transistor in the same role as Rucks, his character from Bastion. That voice is heavenly, and getting him out of the omniscient narrator role will be nice.
- Gameplay looks to be a departure from Bastion, which isn’t terrible at all. With multiple voices returning from Bastion and the same, three-quarter perspective, it was at risk of being typecast. I’m intrigued by the turn-based aspect (which you can see below), and I’m hoping I won’t be too terrible at it.
Most importantly, it’s showing that a studio can retain what people like about their personality while evolving the type of game they want to make. While Transistor can easily be dismissed as “Bastion in the future”, there’s a lot that makes it different. Mainly, instead of feeling isolated, you’re actually part of a living, breathing city; that’s something that really appeals to me.
The gameplay video also makes it clear that there’s going to be a good focus on music and voice, like there was with Bastion. Naturally, the Transistor seems to be doing most of the talking, but Red is also voiced by the same actress who voiced Zia in Bastion; hearing something familiar makes it seem like this game isn’t that foreign; I feel like I’ve been waiting for this game for a long while, without actually knowing it’s coming.
Which is cool, because I’ll admit I felt a little weird about the female protagonist; especially since she’s going to be mute, I think I’d have a harder time connecting. This is different from, say, a female version of Commander Shepard, who I could at least influence in some way.
But to be honest, I don’t think that’s going to be a bad thing – instead of viewing Red as an extension of myself, it may be more of an experience of her story, not “my story, through her.” In doing so, I think Transistor will be something great in that it’ll legitimize this kind of gameplay to a regular audience. It’ll also (hopefully) change more people’s’ minds about women-centered stories being any less valid or entertaining; after all, demographics and marketing data shouldn’t keep us from experiencing these things, just because people think dudes can’t “handle” it.
Experiencing things that may feel foreign to us is the only way we grow. It’s the only way we get better. I’m looking forward to Transistor, and you should too.